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Practice Areas:


John Parnass


John is a construction lawyer advising clients on public and private infrastructure projects, including transit, water/wastewater systems, roads, bridges, and tunneling projects, as well as large commercial, medical, sports, and educational facilities. His practice is divided between transactional work (contracts, bid documents, specifications review) and dispute resolution.

Within this broad based practice, John’s primary areas of focus involve subsurface risk management (i.e., trenchless tunneling disputes, differing site conditions, specification and geotechnical report review), public works procurement issues (bid protests, bidder responsibility issues, legal compliance), and contract negotiation/preparation, general counseling, and claims avoidance.

Before developing his construction law practice, John held a Judicial Clerkship, under the Honorable Ellen Ash Peters, Chief Justice, Connecticut Supreme Court.

John enjoys biking, travel, and live music.

Bar Admissions:

  • Washington
  • Western District of Washington
  • Eastern District of Washington
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • District of Idaho


  • Hampshire College, B.A., History
  • University of Connecticut, with high honors (University of Connecticut Law Review, Notes and Comments Editor)


  • Selected for Washington Super Lawyers, 2001—2003, 2006—2017
  • Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, in the field of Construction Law (Copyright by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC), 2008—2012, and 2017—2018
  • Chambers USA 2010-2014 (selected as leading litigation practitioner)

Speaking Engagements & Presentations:

  • “Trenchless Tunnel Projects: Owner’s Guide to Risk Management,” WASWD Conference, Yakima, WA
  • “Trenchless Tunnel Projects: Risk Management,” WPUDA Conference, Spokane, WA
  • “Bid Protests and Bidder Responsibility Criteria,” MRSC/APWA Bidder Responsibility Workshop, Tacoma WA
  • “Emerging Legal Issues on Design/Build,” Northwest Construction Consumer Council, Seattle WA
  • Geotechnical Baseline Reports: Legal Issues,” NASTT No-Dig, Washington, DC
  • “Recent Developments and Lessons Learned: Practical Tips for Minimizing Construction Risk Under Washington Law,” PUD/Municipal Attorneys CLE, Seattle WA
  • “Use of Dispute Review Boards by Public Owner,” American Public Works Association, Spring Conference
  • “Legal Impact of Geotechnical Reports,” American Waterworks Association – PNWS, Tacoma, WA
  • “Selected Construction Law Issues for Commercial Lease Practitioners,” BOMA, Seattle WA
  • “Worksite Safety: A Guide for Owners and Their Inspectors”


  • “Managing Microtunnel Risks: Revising Contracting Strategies to Help Minimize Successful Outcomes,” Trenchless Technology, 2012 Industry Review (2013)
  • “Alternative Procurement Options for Small-Diameter Trenchless Projects,” Pacific Northwest Trenchless Review at 24 (2012)
  • “The Legal Impact of Geotechnical Baseline Reports,” NASTT Paper No. D-5-03 (Chicago 2010)

Community Involvement:

  • College Success Foundation, Mentor

Professional Organizations:

  • Associated General Contractors of Washington, Board of Trustees, 2008—Present

Representative Matters:

Recent trenchless and tunneling

  • Geotechnical and Contract Document review/modification for 7,000 lineal foot waterline project installed by horizontal directional drilling and open cut
  • Geotechnical/Contract Document review and modification for 3,500 lineal foot HDD project in historic landslide zone
  • Jury verdict in favor of Washington city in default termination case arising from micro-tunneling beneath highway
  • Defend large water utility from Differing Site Condition claims arising from MTBM tunneling
  • Represent regional water district association in planning and installing open cut 96” water transmission line
  • Geotechnical/Contract Document modification for lift station abandonment project with new gravity line installed by MTBM
  • Claims counsel for large water/wastewater utility on MTBM project involving convenience termination and DSC issues

Recent construction litigation

  • Bid protests: represented owners and contractors in bid protests in federal court, state courts, and legislative and administrative proceedings
  • Statute of limitations: represented major league baseball team in Washington Supreme Court case establishing that Seattle stadium is exempt from statute of limitations
  • Acceleration and delay claims; engineering malpractice; design/build disputes; construction defects
  • Schedule claims: represented general contractor in critical path schedule delay claim against university; client awarded substantial compensation after Dispute Review Board hearing
  • Assist client with cost recovery in connection with design and construction of $45 million campus redevelopment project
  • Represented major regional transit agency in defense of large contractor claims for delay, acceleration, and lost productivity arising from light rail construction
  • Represented large Northwest general contractor in $25 million suit arising from construction of railroad refueling facility in Idaho
  • Represented major national engineering firm against large surety in dispute over responsibility for failure of coal gasification plant in Wyoming

Recent construction transactions

  • Serve as lead construction counsel for a large regional association of water districts
  • Outside counsel to Sound Transit in connection with its regional light rail system
  • Draft and negotiate client construction contracts for the tenant improvement work to be funded by client in the shell and core facilities in the South Lake Union area of Seattle
  • Serve as outside general construction counsel to major regional water/wastewater utility
  • Drafted and negotiated design/build agreement for $30 million expansion of detention facility
  • Design and construction service agreements: represented wide range of private and public owners in negotiation of architectural, construction, and engineering contracts
  • Preconstruction agreements: developed preconstruction agreements for general contractor for use in connection with design/build projects
  • Insurance: numerous transactions involving OCIP, CCIP, project-specific coverage
  • Indemnity contracts: negotiation of wide range of indemnity and contribution contracts allocating risk on public and private projects, including representation of owners, general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers